Boca Resident Wins Top Honors in 7 Mile Race Over the Keys Longest Bridge
By Kevin Harris
For the third consecutive year Josh Peterson clenched the overall men’s title when he finished first in the 35th annual Seven Mile Bridge Run in Key West on Saturday.
Peterson, 23, of Boca Raton, ran across the convergence of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico in 38 minutes, 57 seconds. The footrace closed the span between the Middle and Lower Keys for just over two hours.
From the start, Peterson stayed with the pack but broke away and kept his pace for the last two miles.
“I was just running to win,” said the recent Florida Atlantic University graduate and former athlete also helped coach at the university. “This year I was a little worried as you never know who is going to get in.”
Michael Stone, 36, of Fort Lauderdale was second in the men’s division with a time of 39:27. Placing third at 39:38 was Ryan Vanorman, 16, of Rockford, Mich.
Fernandina Beach resident Laura DiBella, 37, finished first in the women’s division at 43:00. This also was her third consecutive overall women’s division title. Morgan Hull, 20, an engineering student in Gainesville, placed second in the women’s division at 43:19. Race veteran Helena Bursa, 40, of Big Pine Key came in third at 43:51.
Registering for the event was a race against the clock. All 1,500 spots filled 20 minutes after online registration went live, organizers said.
The annual event attracted 1,500 runners who ran over the longest of 42 bridges over water that help comprise the Florida Keys Overseas Highway.
The race began in 1982 to help herald the completion of the then-new Seven Mile Bridge, a federally funded construction program that built 37 new bridges in the Keys.
Peterson returned home with the grand prize of a two-night stay at the oceanfront Hawks Cay Resort, which is on the island of Duck Key, and a serving dish.
With three titles under his belt, he already is looking forward to next year’s race.
“I’ll be there for sure,” said Peterson who also snagged the top prize in the 2016 Race for the Cure men’s division with a top overall time of 16 minutes, 57.14 seconds. “It’s a fun weekend for my family. We enjoy going down there and having a good time.”